I have a small patio behind the house. (It had to be small because I didn't want it over the water line.) But while it's small, the path going to it from the back steps is as wide as the steps. This cuts down on the weed grass and ants that wanted to take over the base of the steps, and if I want, I can put seating along the path for company. At the moment there are two concrete benches on each side of the patio--one small and one large. It's slightly asymetrical and very inviting.
What I really want now is a firepit, but I don't know where to put it. I'd like it connected to the patio, but I'm not sure how to do that or where to put it. At first I was going to buy one of those free-standing firepits and put it on the patio. There are some lovely choices now, but then, thinking about hurricane season and having to move it into the shed, I decided that an inground one would be better. I've been thinking about it for a while and still haven't made a decision, but I've learned that you have to be very careful with the stones you use because they can explode.
In the meantime I've been looking at other patio and courtyard possibilities.. I got a Lowe's garden club magazine in the mail the other day, and it has some interesting ideas. The potting bench against the patio wall which you can use for potting or party supplies is a interesting idea. Choosing grills, fountains, and tables would be fun. The magazine includes suggestions for potted plants too, but I prefer my plants in the ground because they're easier to care for.
However, a nifty new idea involves two pots, plants, and a tap (touch) light! The light goes into a small pot which is placed in a larger pot full of soil so that both pots' tops are level with each other. Add plants around the small inside pot, but don't put the tap light into the small pot until you're done planting. And bring the light in if there's going to be a heavy rain. Frankly, I think this should be in a protected area.
One thing I'm not going to do is make the outdoors look like the indoors by putting down rugs and furniture. I'm glad that they're making rugs and fabrics that stand up to the weather, but I don't need another room to clean! Outdoor furniture is available in wood, aluminum, stainless steel, resin, and plastic, btw.